Freedom of Speech in America

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At the end of this discussion I have printed out the so-called “Bill of Rights” which are the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, passed all at once in 1789.  The American constitution is unique in that it is written to limit the government, not the people.  After passage of the initial articles, it was agreed more specificity needed to be added to things the government can’t do.  You see the Constitution says anything not expressly given to the federal government to do, is reserved for the states or the people.  Of course, this increasingly ignored and violated.  You can simply read them below and see what I mean.

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Today though, the First Amendment…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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So do we really have free speech?  If you have a right, it cannot be taken away.  Why say you have a right to free speech?  Because many people don’t want you to say things they disagree with.  In early America, you could be flogged and jailed for saying you disagreed with the King, thought taxes were too high, wanted more representation, or simply refused to toast the King’s health.  Freedoms and rights ONLY matter when what you say is offensive, divisive and unwanted by people in power.

Recent evidence shows the federal government targeted through the IRS groups whose speech it disagreed with.  Reporters who said things that were not popular with the President were investigated, wire-tapped and initially charged with crimes.  A person who did some stupid internet video trashing Islam was jailed and had disappeared without trial.  Now we know from recent emails that the administration knew Benghazi had nothing to do with the video.  Where is the guy?

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In France, Brigitte Bardot was jailed for saying there were too many Islamic immigrants in France.  Recently, a candidate for office in England was arrested for quoting Winston Churchill’s early views on Islam in a public setting.  Hate speech, political correctness, racist comments and offensive people are best allowed to spew their hate and receive the consequences.

We can have websites that mock Christianity with the Great Spaghetti monster, but we can’t mention Al Queda on the 911 Memorial even though they took credit for the attacks.  We can have Starbucks criticize the Second Amendment, but we can’t have Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A express their beliefs on homosexuality or abortion.  We can have sex education and explicit books in schools, but not prayer and a kid pulls out a Bible on recess and has it confiscated.

Don’t get me wrong…  When people say things you disagree with, I support YOUR freedom of speech to criticize them, boycott them, etc.  I am not defending racists, homophobes, hateful people, offensive people or any of those.  I am only saying that they should be allowed to spew their thoughts and others should be allowed to react so that they bear the responsibility for their actions.  However, neither the government, nor institutions should be in the business of punishing anyone who disagrees with them.

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Recently we have the experience of an 80 year old racist.  He owns the LA Clippers.  A known gold-digger received over $1.8 million in gifts to have sex with him.  She taped over 100 hours of their conversations.  After his wife sued her for return of the gifts, she reveals 15 minutes of him complaining that she, his kept mistress, is posting pictures of black men on Instagram and taking them to the games.  Notably, Magic Johnson and Terrell Owens.  He yells at her that she can like them, have sex with them, or whatever, but it is embarrassing to him for his friends to see her out with them.  Is he racist?  Hell yeah!  Now the freedom of speech does not protect him from the NBA taking action, only the government.

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The head of Mozilla was fired for making a political contribution for a man and woman only marriage initiative ten years ago in California.  That proposition passed 2-1 and was the official position of Barrack Obama during his campaign at the same time.  Now, the CEO gets fired for it.  Is he anti-GLBTQ?  There is no evidence of that in his work record.  But he had a different viewpoint, so he has to go.

Universities now stifle the ability of freedom of speech.  Can they do that?  Well, the Courts say since they get federal funding they can’t have religious rules or discriminate, but despite that, they say they are private when it comes to freedom of speech.  Only freedom to repeat what is politically correct at that moment.

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The problem with all this is that by suppressing speech and punishing those you disagree with, bad things happen.  1) you won’t know the racists and assholes because they will go underground; 2) political donations will go undercover to protect donors; 3) one day it will be you that has an unpopular idea; 4) do you want a world where you can be fired at any time in the future because of any opinion you expressed anywhere in your past?  The point of freedom of speech is to protect people who say stupid, outrageous and offensive things.  No one limits people from saying “groupthink.”

We should all hesitate before inflicting restrictions on others when we may very well be next.  It is the same with the other rights below.  Why tell the government we have the right to bear arms?  Because governments don’t want the populace armed.  Unarmed people can’t fight back against government exceeding its authority and violating their rights.  At that time, it meant having weapons for the express purpose of being capable to overthrow a corrupt government.  Our Declaration of Independence says we have a responsibility to overthrow government that ceases to represent the people.  It does not mean a national guard, or shotguns, or registration.  It means a right, a freedom.  Don’t like it?  Then repeal the amendment, don’t ignore it.

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What about the 10th Amendment?  Why do we have national healthcare, national education standards, national drug laws, etc.?  Those were never given to the federal government, they are for the states or the people.  Each day your rights are being eroded and just like the frog cooking in the pot, if you turn up the heat slowly, it will boil to death and never jump out.  The hard part is to defend the rights of your fellow citizens to do things you completely hate and disagree with, so that you can live your life with liberty as well.

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The Bill of Rights: A Transcription

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the “Bill of Rights.”


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

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